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Bringing the story of ‘the greatest sporting curveball in history’ to the screen

TVBEurope talks to the team behind the film about Eddie Jones and the Japanese rugby team's shock win at the 2015 Rugby World Cup

Released globally earlier this month, The Brighton Miracle tells the true story of Japan’s victory against the then two-time world champions South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Produced by Simon Le Bon, Yasmin Le Bon and Nick Wood of Syn Studios, alongside Tim Farmer of East Pool Films, and written and directed by Max Mannix, the film follows Eddie Jones, played in re-enactments by Star Wars actor Temuera Morrison as he prepared the Japanese rugby team for the game.

Temuera Morrison stars as Eddie Jones in The Brighton Miracle. Photo Credit The Brighton Miracle

The film blends talking-head interviews with Jones and the players alongside re-enactments of events.

TVBEurope caught up with Nick Wood and Max Mannix to find out more about how they brought the film to the screen.

Where did the idea for the film come from?

Mannix: I assisted Eddie Jones during his tenure as coach of the Japanese Rugby Team. With years of planning, it was Jones who drove the Japanese team – who at the time had the worst record in Rugby World Cup history – to believe that they could beat South Africa, the strongest team in Rugby World Cup history. When it actually happened, and knowing up close the challenges the coach and captain overcame – especially in relation to their health and losing family members -the idea for a film was difficult to ignore.

How did Syn Productions become involved?

I knew co-founder Nick Wood from the fantastic work he was doing in Japan and internationally. We often spoke of working together and Nick’s passion for this project was off the scale. Nick soon started recording music samples that captured the feel of the film and he also began attending producer meetings. The film wouldn’t have happened without Nick and his fellow film producer Tim Farmer.

Nick Wood
What does The Brighton Miracle refer to?

The game took place in Brighton, UK. The media acclaimed the victory as a miracle. We used the title, The Brighton Miracle, as a working title and it eventually stuck.

In terms of filming, can you tell us what cameras and lenses you used?

After consulting with DP, Jack Wareham, we decided to use the RED Camera system with Cooke S4 lenses. Jack conveyed to me how the RED camera system is so very versatile and economical, especially when shooting slow motion at a high resolution. As for the lenses, the Cooke S4s are the most natural cinematic lenses that don’t need filtering to render a filmic look. So it was an easy choice.

Temeura Morrison as Eddie Jones and Lasarus Ratuere as Michael Leitch
Did you use different cameras for the reenactments compared to the talking head scenes?

Yes, after consulting with Jack, for the interviews we went with a Panasonic camera with Canon lenses. In post production, we blurred the corner of the interview frames slightly to give an anamorphic look that highlighted the interviewee.

What sound equipment did you use?

Decisions were driven by Seth Jackson and Joel Hodgkinson of Soul Sound Design in Brisbane. All up, we used a 688 recorder. Lectrosonics wireless. DPA 6060 Lav mics, Schoeps cmit and Schoeps cmc6mk41 boom mics.

How was the film edited?

Time was a big issue as we needed to hit a firm release date. Lead editor Cameron Hales was keen to edit in Adobe Premiere Pro. With the short turnaround we had three editors working around the clock under Cameron’s direction.

Does the film include footage from the real match?

Yes, we chose to use the real footage for the main game which, after permissions from World Rugby and key stakeholders (MasterCard, Land Rover, Heineken, DHL, Emirates and Société Générale), we then sourced and negotiated footage directly from IMG.

Max Mannix
How was the film colour graded?

The film was graded in Resolve by Brisbane-based colourist Justin McDonald who was masterful in integrating the real game footage with the dramatic footage.

Is the film released in HD or 4K, and why did you choose that resolution?

The film was finished in 4K so we could release it in cinemas and also so we could meet criteria for any streaming platforms.

What about sound, is it stereo or Dolby Atmos?

We did a 5.1 surround Dolby mix and a stereo mix.

What was the biggest challenge of making the film?

Apart from raising the budget, a lack of time to complete the project was definitely the biggest hurdle.

What’s next on your development slate?

A documentary about Japan’s most noted Shogun, Ieyasu Tokugawa. Tokugawa ruled Japan from 1603 and was responsible for moving the capital from Kyoto to Tokyo. We are very fortunate to be working with Iehiro Tokugawa, the 19th generation head of the Tokugawa family, and last remaining direct descendent of Ieyasu Tokugawa.

The Brighton Miracle is available to watch now on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vimeo and Microsoft Video.